The drivers of the Ligier European Series tame the Red Bull Ring in Austria

The drivers of the Ligier European Series tame the Red Bull Ring in Austria

16.05.2021: Saturday 15 May, race day for the Ligier European Series. The #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R and the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 came out victorious in race one, marked by uncertain weather conditions. There was a radical change for race two. Th


Saturday 15 May, race day for the Ligier European Series. The #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R and the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 came out victorious in race one, marked by uncertain weather conditions. There was a radical change for race two. The summer-like conditions worked in favour of the #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R and the #34 Les Deux Arbres Ligier JS P4.
 




Race 1: The #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R and the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 victorious



Race one of the weekend for the Ligier European Series got underway on Saturday, 15 May, at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Like the day before in qualifying, the drivers had to deal with very changeable weather. In the Ligier JS2 R category, the #53 M Racing entry won the race at the end of an intense battle with the #24 from Orhès Racing. In Ligier JS P4, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage entry confirmed the speed it had shown since the start of the weekend with the win in its category.



The Austrian weather posed a threat since the early hours of the morning, and the going got all that much harder for the Ligier European Series drivers in race one at the Red Bull Ring. Between spins and slides, the slick track gave more than one driver a scare. The start of the race was marked by several yellow flags and two safety car periods. However, the finicky weather, which changed from rain to dry conditions, provided great on-track battles.
 


The pole-winning #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage JS P4 driven by Alessandro Cicognani pulled away at the start. The battle for second place was an inter-squad affair between the two cars from Les Deux Arbres: the #33 driven by Jacques Nicolet and the #34 by Patrice Lafargue.



About 20 minutes into the race, the #34 received a drive-through penalty for passing the #33 behind the safety car. The sanction was not served per the regulations, which led the race stewards to impose a second drive through the pits. At half-distance, the pit stop window opened: the #23 took advantage of the second safety car to make its stop, while the #33 and the #34 remained on track.
 


A strategic choice that didn’t pan out for the Les Deux Arbres cars, which made their stops after the safety car period and lost their lead. HP Racing's #23 took the chequered flag with Jacopo Faccioni behind the wheel, more than ten seconds ahead of the #33, followed by the #34. Third on the podium, Patrice Lafargue, the gentleman driver and IDEC Sport boss, drove an excellent race in his debut in the Ligier JS P4 and the series. He set the fastest time in the race in 1:38.055s.
 


The battles were aplenty right from the start of the race in the Ligier JS2 R category. The #24 Orhès Racing entry driven by Mathieu Martins jumped into the lead ahead of Natan Bihel in the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R at turn one. Nicolas Beraud, who started third in the #95 CTF Performance machine, also put in a strong start to take second place. However, he was soon overtaken by Natan Bihel, who was overtaking one car after another.



Nicolas Beraud had then to stave off the attacks of Laurent Millara in the #69 car of M Racing. As Natan Bihel took the lead, he and Mathieu Martins made contact, causing damage to the front end of the #24. The reason for this was a greasy track which made driving difficult. Mathieu Martins suffered again a little later: he went for a slide and lost two positions.
 


Except for the #95 CTF Performance Ligier JS2 R, the entire field made their pit stops while the safety car was still on track. The Ligier JS2 Rs benefited from the late pit stops of the Ligier JS P4s, which were done after the safety car period, to take the overall lead. A ballet of overtaking ensued. The #69 from M Racing led the race, followed by the #13 of COOL Racing driven by Maurice Smith. It was a good performance for the driver who is competing in this year's Michelin Le Mans Cup in the #69 COOL Racing Ligier JS P320 and is a newcomer to the Ligier JS2 R and the Ligier European Series.
 


Olivier Pernaut, in the #24, made a strong comeback and took the lead of the race with 25 minutes remaining. However, the #53 from M Racing powered its way to the sharp end of the order, overtaking the #13 and then the #69. Now in second place, the duel was once again between the #53 and the #24. Olivier Pernaut resisted Natan Bihel's attacks for several laps, but the silver driver was still faster and eventually took the lead with less than 15 minutes to go. He set the fastest lap of the race in its category in 1:40.446s. The #24 of Orhès Racing finished second, followed by the #69 of M Racing, which ran a clean race.
 


Fourth place went to the #25 Orhès Racing entry of Alain Bucher and Julien Fébreau.  The #13 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R finished fifth. Despite a good start to the race, the #95 CTF Performance car driven by Nicolas Beraud and Gilles Poret was unable to close the gap created by their driver change after the safety car period. The crew finished sixth. Arctic Energy's #17, driven by Sergey Egorov and Povilas Jankavicius, and COOL Racing's #4, driven by Cédric Oltramare, who had their fair share of off-circuit excursions finished respectively seventh and eighth.
 


Alessandro Cicognani, HP Racing Team by Monza Garage, #23 Ligier JS P4, Winner JS P4 Race 1:

“I made an excellent start and opened up a gap to my competitors. When the safety car came out, I decided to make my pit stop. This strategy allowed us to keep the lead with Jacopo's great stint.”



Jacopo Faccioni, HP Racing Team by Monza Garage, #23 Ligier JS P4, Winner JS P4 Race 1:

“With the wet and dry conditions, strategy played a major role in this race. Despite the rain, I felt great in the car. But I always feel good in a race car!”



Natan Bihel, M Racing, #53 Ligier JS2 R, Winner JS2 R Race 1
:
“Race one was quite hard. The conditions changed during the race: we started on a dry track, then it rained, and by the end of the race, the surface had dried! You had to keep adapting your driving style. But I was able to keep the lead. Mathieu [Martins] and Olivier [Pernaut] were very fast. I managed to beat them in race one, and they got their revenge in race two!”




Race 2: the #24 Orhès Racing and the #34 Les Deux Arbres take the bull by the horns

 

 

For the second and final race of the weekend, at 4 pm, the weather was calmer for the Ligier European Series drivers, who once again engaged in a spirited fight for the win. The #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R clinched its first victory in the JS2 R category after three podium finishes so far this season. In the Ligier JS P4 category, the #34 Les Deux Arbres took the honours.
 


The weather was the headline in round two of the Ligier European Series at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. While race one took place in very wet conditions, the second race was run under sunny skies.
The #33 Les Deux Arbres Ligier JS P4, driven by Jacques Nicolet, started from pole position but was overtaken by the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage car, with Jacopo Faccioni behind the wheel. The Italian team's car shot to the front of the field. The #34 Les Deux Arbres with Patrice Lafargue aboard soon caught the sister car, the #33, and then passed it on lap four.
 


After making its driver change, the #23 Ligier JS P4 received a drive-through for speeding in the pit lane. Already overtaken by Patrice Lafargue in the #34, it lost second place to the #33 of Jacques Nicolet. With a 45-second lead over its nearest competitor, the #34 went on for the win, clocking the fastest lap of the race in 1:37.544s. Despite the #23’s attempts to overtake with Alessandro Cicognani at the commands, the #33 of Les Deux Arbres held onto second place. The Italian HP Racing Team by Monza Garage finished third.
 


In the Ligier JS2 R category, the #25 of Orhès Racing with Julien Fébreau took the lead with an excellent start from third place on the grid. It widened the gap to its sister car, the #24 driven by Olivier Pernaut, which started on pole position and was in a duel with Natan Bihel, in the #53 of M Racing.



 Further back on the grid, the #17 Arctic Energy Ligier JS2 R driven by Povilas Jankavicius was followed by the #95 CTF Performance car driven by Nicolas Beraud while the two COOL Racing cars fought for seventh place. A close duel between the #13 of Maurice Smith and the #4 of Cédric Oltramare ended with contact and a spin for the #13. An incident that earned the #4 a drive-through penalty.
 


After overtaking the #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R, Natan Bihel in the #53 M Racing entry took on Julien Fébreau in the #25 Orhès Racing machine to take the lead. Behind them, the #69 M Racing Ligier JS2 R driven by Laurent Millara was repeatedly attacked by the #95 CTF Performance car. After locking-up the wheels at turn one, the #69 gave up fourth place to the #95, which then set off after the #25. The fight for third place on the podium was long and intense.


The two drivers made contact several times, and the tyres were severely tested. After another contact, CTF Performance got the better of the #25 of Orhès Racing. Further back on the grid, the #17 Arctic Energy and the #13 COOL Racing were in a game of cat and mouse, passing each other several times. In the end, it was the Arctic Energy car that won the duel, while the #13 was again attacked by its sister car the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R.
 


The #4 car of Cédric Oltramare received a seven-second stop and go penalty for not respecting the pit stop window. At the front of the field, the gap between the #53 Ligier JS2 R of Natan Bihel and the #24 now driven by Mathieu Martins was closing rapidly.



Faster than its rival, the #24 overtook the #53 with less than 20 minutes to go in the race and went on for the win with a seven-second margin of victory from the #53. In the meantime, the #69 of M Racing recovered third place after overtaking the #95 with Gilles Poret in the car. The CTF Performance car now had to face the onslaught of the #13 COOL Racing car, which moved up to fourth place in the general classification.
 


A final battle took place on the last lap between the #95, the #4 and the #25. Despite a good defence, the CTF Performance #95 lost fifth place to the second COOL Racing car, the #4. The #25 Orhès Racing with the duo Julien Fébreau and Alain Bucher finished seventh ahead of the #17 of Arctic Energy driven by Sergey Egorov and Povilas Jankavicius.
 



Patrice Lafargue, Les Deux Arbres, #34 Ligier JS P4, Winner JS P4 Race 2:

"Race one this morning was a bit complicated. We did everything we were not supposed to do. But it allowed me to get to know the Ligier JS P4, which I didn't know at all.

This afternoon for race two, everything lined up. We even had good weather. It was a great pleasure to discover this car and the atmosphere of the Ligier series, which is fantastic. I quickly felt at ease in the car, which is essential for any driver. It reacts well and boosts your confidence straight away. A great discovery!”



Olivier Pernaut, Orhès Racing, #24 Ligier JS2 R, Winner JS2 R Race 2:

“We are thrilled. We started race two from pole position thanks to an intelligent strategy from the team. The race went according to plan this afternoon despite a difficult start.


 I was a bit stuck in a funnel at the first corner. We drove at a steady pace 2 to 3 tenths of a second behind Natan [Bihel]. We had calculated our move! Mathieu then had to be sure of his stint in the second half of the race. And that's what he did! He made up the five seconds that separated us from Natan and crossed the finish line with a seven-second lead.”



Mathieu Martins, M Racing, #24 Ligier JS2 R, Winner JS2 R Race 2:

“I am delighted with this result. We worked a lot with Olivier to prepare for this meeting. We trained on the Orhès Racing simulator. It's vital when you don't know a track. It allows us to be faster right away, and it paid off this weekend!”



For the complete results of the race, CLICK HERE.

 

 

That is a wrap for round two in Austria. The Ligier European Series will be in action on 4 and 5 June in France, for the Heat from Circuit Paul Ricard.

 

Join us!


Follow all the Ligier European Series news with the official Hashtag #Ligiereuroseries
 
 
Ligier, photos DPPI

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/ligier-european-series-red-bull-ring-austria---223464.html

16.05.2021 / MaP

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